author of obama's four hours -- horses. thank you. >> david grapier is next on booktv. he argues that america's political system only responsive to the wealthy and disfranchised the remain of the population. it's a little over an hour. how are you doing tonight? i'm thomas frank, and i'm the author of a lot of stuff. it doesn't really matter. they have my book here tonight. what do you know? i'll mention it. pity the billionaire. a book about the financial crisis and the sort of bizarre political response to it. that took place in this country. and i'm here with david great britainer, who is also an author, and what i want to do,
first of all, welcome david to the richest city in america. i thought it would be appropriate. i want to welcome to a city why the real estate market never really suffered. never really stopped for -- never really missed a beat. a city where it tells the recent sequester. there was really no slump to speak of at all. the reason washington, d.c., has done so incredibly well in recent years isn't because we are open handed with federal employees. but because of all the sort of highly visible reasons, david, you no doubt noticed from the way from the airport when you see the buildings marked and saic and general dynamic. what i'm referring to is the massive contracting out of government services of public function we do today as a political matter, of course. plus all the soft money
contributions which grvtate t here, of course. plus all the lobby and efforts to put government on what president bush used to call a market-based footing. all the things that david refers to as bribery. i think that's apt. as we are gathered here today to mourn the passing of one of the leader of the conservative revolution. i'm referring to margaret thatcher. i think it's wort noting in the irony the free market and the conservative movement hate the most has historically been the greatest benefit of the political dominance. the vie of washington of the enforcement and the mortal enemy
is the kind of cynicism i can endorse whole heartedly. he describes in the new book the "democracy project" he describes city of washington. as a city that runs on bribes. city where the banks succeeded in enlisting to the force of the state. let me tell you something about david which is mainly from reading his last book the fantastic tight "debt, the first 5,000 years." i read it it was a revelation to me. one of the sprawling romps through human history that i,
myself, thought nobody wrote anymore. that kind of thing. i don't know if you are familiar with the "golding bow." i don't know if anybody reads it or appropriate to make the comparison. it struck me as that kind of book. written on the same sort of sweeping scale and showing the same kind of grand historical originality. and the kind of book where you know as soon as you read through a single chapter that it's going overturn all sorts of things that the world insists to be true. going remind you how little we really know about the human path. how much we simply project on to the path with the theory and aid yolingsz. what was frightening a book largely concerned with bronze age society could be so precisely relevant to our and the exact moment we're living
through right now. and all i'm waiting for now that the book has been out for a year 0 so for the economist to acknowledge that he has singledly shattered some of the most fundamental article of faith. i'm waiting to see that. the new book is "the democracy project" i've got it right here. among other things, it's a firsthand account of how occupy wall street got started back in the summer of 2011. david was there, of course. and saw it all firsthand. now i have myself been critical of a number of well, most of the occupy books that have come out prior to now. all over the world of
contemporary politics. smashing interpretation of things. interpretations i have never heard of before. he's completely invented but yet ring true. for example, among other things out of thin air. he has a critique of academic left, which i found both original and unique in the literature of occupy wall street. i have never seen anything like it. the book is unique it's written in the first person. it's refreshing to read. it's filled with great ante-dote. it's told in a way that seems absolutely familiar. when you read it the author's voice is one can you immediately, you know, it seems very close. there's also a strange -- i'm going reveal i went to the same graduate. i'm going use words like will l.a. coo it's where i want to start the conversation. in the book david finds all sort
of fascinating antecede for the occupy movement. for people trying to build a democratic society in the show . will no doubt about that. the pirate of the caribbean. that's where dpm comes from. it was the most obvious in some ways. the clearest for occupy which was the populace movement. it's a movement, think about it. made of a of the people. and in this case, farmers and the case today of largely students. a movement that hated and depized wall street. and more importantly, a movement
who democratic vision arose directly out of the experience of democratic organizing. out of the movement culture. and the historians like to say. it they would hold huge parades. go through small town in huge number and have the fast encampment. and another theme was middle class people basically falling behind. and as i read the book i was impressed by the example that you didn't mention. i was wondering why it wasn't there. start there. one. >> one reason why, i think occupy wall street was buying a lot of outside observers criticized for largely not doing
that. there's a great tradition, and i think i talk about it in the kind of movement that exist around the time of the revolutionary war. right after the revolutionary war which was mobilization of largely indebted farmers against financial interest in the way also foreshadow the exact theme. most people don't know that one of the reasons that the institutional convention itself was convened was because the before the hour pop lis would give inspirational speeches was elected in pennsylvania which was at that time the most
democratic state institution. and was making an issue specifically out of the central banking system to monotize the revolutionary war get. and saw this as a in fact was. as it a kind of conspiracy of a very rich to get, you know, -- situated right here. indeed i do. [laughter] it was the deal so he could get the way on the national debt and he said i demand my part of the deal. you put the national capital down in my statement. that's right. i heard it's one of the protest. yeah. so far away from many towns. pennsylvania had problems all the time with veterans like from marching in front of them demanding things. yeah.
so at the time it was the same pressure. i found one of the last vote i was finding the book i had to put it in. it was so great. the opening remarking of the institutional convention. dpoarch of virginia at the time. say we have a real problem in america today. we have way too much democracy. they were upfront like this. the institution are ricked. they are not too democratic. the democratic element. once you get it out of the bottle it's hard to put it back. need to control was the democratic stirrings. what will we do? and in fact one of the things most concerned about was financial issues. because the radical in pennsylvania were doing to create the lank bank. they would issue paper money. this is when it happened they panic and immediately called constitution institutional i did venges. only new federal government was
allowed to create the money. so they live up the pop lis order. their version is free silver. we have a gold standard at the time. deflation their which is disastrous which you are a debtor, which farmers really. they wanted the silver standard which was inflationary. the response from the republican and the eastern establishment to call them repudiationist. i loved that word. repudiationists. they wanted to get out of the debts. there is that wonderful language. they call them death center. it's impossible. there's a huge string of that. i think the reason i didn't talk about the populist as much is simply because that attempt to mobilize through the electrical means only so far.
we -- [inaudible] a genuine cultural transformation. we wanted be build a democratic culture a grassroots culture that hasn't existed. that's where we are looking. and so that's why things like feminism. those are people who are aiming at direct moral challenge at the basis of the society in which they live. you can't do that by running candidates. you have to do that by running candidates and even pushing a specific legislative agenda. doing so helps others who are running candidates. and pushing a legislative agenda. you need people who start building, as they used to say, the shovel in the society. which is why, in a way, the funny thing about occupy wall street. it seemed to fade out. we were actually aiming for a long-term strategy. the transformation on what the
nature is democracy is. it's not going happen in a year. it's going take decades to completely transform our basic idea of what are political relations are like. we are dazzled by how fast everything went. it's hard to think of an example of an movement that came out to do so much in a short period of time. those weren't our ultimate aims. they extremely ambitious. >> that leads to the next question was going to ask you about how you measure success in the movement. and you situate occupy in this global continuum movement the arab spring, the protest in greece, protests in spain. some of the movements have done huge things. egypt, libya, libya and after, you know, terrible bloodshed. you know, and so it's possible to say this was a success.
but what? how to we measure what occupy has done? what is the metric for this? >> i think we're not going to know for a few years. it might sound strange, but, i mean, i know we have done some things we have done. i think what we can claim for putting social class on the agenda of american politics. something nobody managed to do for fifty or sixty years. >> i've been working on that for a long time. maybe i should claim credit for that. [laughter] i'll shut up there. put set the stage. it was a breakthrough point. it was true 99% thing worked. >> that's right. i agree with you there. i'll shut up, folks, i'll proms i'll shut up. i wrote a book called "what is the matter of kansas." it was the idea to put class in the center of the conversation it takes politics away from what
i thought was the dead end of the culture wars. and this was sort of shocking or -- i thought was, shocking new thing to be done at the time. i have to say, it was this is a point that was impossible to make and very difficult to make until all of a sudden in the summer of 2011, and you have to get occupy credit for that. all the sudden the buy we talk about these things changed. and opinions i had been, my friends and i had been pushing for years and years and years suddenly became acceptable. that was a remarkable moment when it happened. it's hard to understand why it happens when it does. it's not just class. i think it's interesting. we were trying to bring attention to the whole idea of the 99% which was floating around the 1% at the time. if hadn't really quite taken off in the way it did. was not just to talk about class
but class power. that's is interesting about it. the thing about the 1%. they are not only the group to the benefits of economic growth have accrued over the past twenty years or so, but also the people who get basically all campaign contributions. essentially what you have is a small group of people through the system of institutionalized bribery we call democracy are essentially paying off the politicians and the politicians write the law in the way the human essentially accrue all the process. it's a circular thing. government authority one could make the argument in the basis of it the economic system.
there's a new configuration of social class in the country where by -- this almost like mafia capitalism. that's basically the basis of the financial class. october the tactic for me is what gets in the way of the appreciation of occupy. i always come back to this idea of building a community. why was that so important and occupying public space? the florida act of protesting in a public space. why is that for you so afraid of meaning at the time when, you know, if you open up any magazine -- well, we can tell ante-dote. everybody thinks the world has moved online.
one thing you don't mean to do is go out any stt street and trade them. does the stock exchange still exist? >> it does, actually. >> that's what i'm wondering. why the emphasis on physical space. it's a interesting question. i have given a lot thought to it. what was happening in the global justice movement. an most people continue know it exists or how it works.
what it would be like. the democratic organization of the actions at least the people absolutely central to what we were doing. what we ended up doing is organizing the giant carnival and festival. it referred to it as a revolution. the classic model of what is supposed to happen in a revolution. fist you have the battle with the police and the army. there's a huge festival and celebration. then you gradually form the section. you form directly democratic institution and gradually you transform every day life. our basic social relation.
they get together to organize huge festival which end with battles. the same thing in the opposite order. that was the old model. all the sudden we have a new thing instead of creating the great carnival against captain limit. we have a captain. -- camp. the activist mutual caring dedication. mutual service it becomes a gesture of defiance in the face of capitalism. the most effective one. it took hold as an image. i think the reason why can with understand in the nature of labor. i was impressed. put up the page for people stand there. us saying i'm the 99 percent. here is my story. thousand of people did. what i was -- almost all of them were about people in debt.
people out of work, people trying to take care of their family. the desperate florida situations. they were heart wrenching stories a lot of them. the thing they haven't -- first of all, overwhelming majority of them were women. even the guys were almost all involved in some kind of caring labor. they were either providing social services or teachers. or they were involved in the medical profession in one way or another. they were doing things to help people. doing things for people. and the common complaint was, like, i want to have a life where i am nice to people. i do something that is good for others. if you want to have that kind of job. they'll pay you so little and fete you in debt you can't take of your own family. it's ridiculous. edat the core of ki of moral
per elevation of the situation. the crisis that brought about the movement and brought so many people to the state. where we take care of each other in the day of capitalism is the ultimate gesture against it. i'm going shift gears here. you all think that david is just like, you know, out there leftist. he has some things to say in the new book that prove a little bit astonishing. what i'm trying to get do you lead up to is something i found interest which is your take on the conservative label liberal elite. a phrase they love to throw around. and you were edging toward it there. i want to you to complete the thought. what is the reason so many working class people are attracted to right-wing pop
lymph. i thought about it a lot. the key strategic question for anyone on the left. what the other guys doing right? i was really impressed by two slogan. and how they didn't seem to to do anything with each other. they seemed impractice to have everything to do with each other. one is support the troops. the liberal elite. and they are the two idea that seem to catch the most in right-wing pop lymph and appeal to a lot of working class people. i talk about it. and i realize that in a way there is. imagine it this way. imagine everything we think about americans is not true. we're not actually a nation of cynic trying to get ahead.
we want to be nice and do something noble for people. how do you do that? the jobs are you get to be good to people are almost sold as a reward in the country. that's what you do if you get rich. you spend your life doing charity. that's a reward. [laughter] and in fact, suddenly everything started to click. i realize that okay, say i'm truck driver to louisiana or air-conditional repairman at the base in nebraska. i have a smart kid. i can imagine a scenario where my smart kid can become a ceo. i don't like ceo much. i can imagine breaking to the economic elite. i can't imagine any situation where my kid is ever going to be drama critic for the new york "the new york times" or
international human rights lawyer. it's not going to happen. those kind of jobs. there's a million barriers. when it comes down to is if you want to get that isn't just -- if you want a job that relates basically to any type of value, truth, beauty, the arts, journalism, politics, you want to do something where you actually get paid to be nice to people or follow something higher than money. well, they point pay you for the two first two years. you have to go to a elite college. you have to live in new york or san francisco some expensive city on no money for years. it's impossible for anyone from that tbokd break in. naturally you hate the guys who grab the guy -- jobs. on the other hand if you from a working class background you want to get paid for something that is higher pursuing something higher and noble. what can you do?
join the army. that's pretty much it. one of the things that gay it away to me. anthropologist who has a whole study of u.s. military basis. one thing she they have the programs where they get the soldier to sort of go out and outreach. and they started this stuff because they thought it would make people more accepting. it doesn't work at all. it basically has no effect. what they found out they keep it up because they found out that soldiers who get it do the stuff are three times more likely to reenlist. they like -- they want to be in the peace corp. they don't want to kill anybody. they want to do something nice. you can get paid to go -- they are more likely to sign up to a job where, you know, the
possibility of getting your head blown off and crippled or killed is allowed to free dental checkup. i think that tells you something. the only way they are able to do that by conventional means is going a fancy college, doing two years -- available to, you know, most people. >> exactly. fascinating. you have a section in the last chapter called reclaiming communism. >> explain. >> i think we're communists most of the time. we don't realize it. yeah. what, i mean, by that part of the argument we need to transform common sense. this is how you know a revolution happened. common sense is different.
the french revolution he said, you know, if 1750, you know, if you were to say social change is go it's a simple one, most people think you are crazy. the kind of people of social change is probably a good thing or a weird people who hang around cafe, wing nuts, 0 populists, by 1850, pretty much anybody has to claim the social change is good. whatever they actually think. similarly the idea of sustained is important to guide social change and they were considered crazy. so what are revolution does is transforms common sense. it does it on a global level not just where the revolution took place. even doesn't if do it anywhere. the kind of effects. what kind of common sense could be transforming now? in the end i provocatively throw out an example. maybe about work. the idea of work. i thought, okay, it's crazy.
we have a idea of communism taking control within collective pot. the original molt tow doesn't come from -- he probably got it from the workers movement from before that was communism means from each according to the ability to each according to the needs. anybody trying to solve a problem to cooperate actually acts like communist in that sense. if someone is fixing a pipe and someone said hand me a wrench you don't say what do i get? you give the guy what he needs. when there's a natural disaster everybody reverts to communism. it's a big problem for management they are resist. there's a fact that a firm inside the firm spend the operation of the market is deserving to them. one of the big ideas of management theory in the '90s
communism? anarchism and communism they all already exist it's just how much of it quick so we differ about is how large the zone can be expanded to. >> to get back to occupy and one of its connections with washington d.c., one of the moments that made occupy possible in your account was the debt ceiling debate in the summer of 2011, one of the real high points in the city's history. i am being sarcastic there. it was disastrous. i remember it very well and everybody was terrified, what were these people going to do? the price of gold was vertical and since this was a city where the glorious contribution to human understanding took place i wonder if you could tell us what you mean by that? was that an enabling moment? >> it was a moment where pretty much everyone in america
realized politicians didn't have any interest in arguing about anything that actually did affect their lives. that was essentially the line that we were putting out there for organizing occupy. politics can make themselves irrelevant. they hook up these make believe issues that they can argue about and has nothing to do with acting actual people's real problem. he only way to create a solution is to create a space where people can get together and start getting people to solve problems for themselves. the world does not lack anything. if there's anything that there is no shortage of whatsoever it's more people with creative ideas to come come up with solutions while these problems. the problem is most people on earth go around all day with solutions to solve local problems.
how do we open up the space whereby people can research? and that works. that ultimately i think that delegitimization effort. and it seemed our strongest suit. he entered the political have feel themselves and they got the money and the pr machines. they could overwhelm us but the big link we have is most people think the politicians are crooks. i don't think that they recognize the fact that they are and how can we push that further? a lot of successful revolutions have worked that way. i was think of argentina and most people don't know how the third world debt crisis ended. the argentine government was forced by popular movements.
forget the entire political class. they are irrelevant and i talk about stupid things and we don't need any of them. we are going to set up our popular assemblies much like we did in occupy factories and run them ourselves. we will create our own economic system and forget those guys. in order to re-legitimate themselves the political class and kirschner who is this extremely moderate democrats realize they had to do something radical to re-legitimate the idea that politicians could be relevant and there's a sign you know when that strategy has succeeded when politicians can no longer go to restaurants. [laughter] this is it, without wearing disguises. argentine politicians had to put on funny mustaches to dine out otherwise people would start throwing fruit at them. i heard it was like that a green stone. when it gets to that point the politicians are terrified to face the people they're supposed to be covering. they have got to do something. there are all sorts of different
radical plans they could adopt. we don't have to come up with one for them but that was all right and what he came up with was all right i will default on the argentine debts which set off a ripple effect which destroyed the imf at least for the time being and ended the third world debt crisis. that is how it happens with that delegitimize it effort. this is a perfect point where politicians essentially de-legitimated themselves 85% of the way and we just want to push a little bit further. >> are there republicans doing your wishes? >> wait for it bounce back very soon. [laughter] >> now another big after in the book someone on the other side is the new york police department and they are on the one hand the ultimate nemesis, the people who wrack occupy but also on the other hand away their hostility is one of the things that you turn to to sort
of prove that occupy at the right answers because otherwise why would they be so hostile if you want a real threat to the system? why would they do things like er ithis? that isn't having it both ways with these guys? >> when you talk about the new york city police department i'm not talking about individual police officers who were very much broken up a lot of them and very very different opinions. a lot of them made a big point of saying how they personally supported us. sometimes in bizarre circumstances. i have a friend who at one point they were doing intentional attacks on women. they would be ostentatiously groping them and things like that and freak out the women and provoke them and to do something violent. one woman screamed and called them a and broke her thumbs. when she was in the hospital she was talking after six hours of pleading to go to the hospital,
she talked to the police and they said personally would support you. come out and protest. so it gives you a sense of how confusing it is to deal with it most of the time. the thing you have to understand about the new york police is that a lot of these people especially in precinct one which is the wall street precinct, they get paid directly white walls -- by wall street. they do security work in their uniforms with their dogs for wall street most of them for considerable hours a week. the head of the nypd used to be the chief of global security for bear stearns in his boss of course mayor bloomberg is a wall street executive so the point that there's really no distinction between the course of power of the state and wall street. >> various members of the bush administration formerly from bear stearns. >> yeah and we now know what
happens. the decision was made by the fbi was in on it and homeland security and all these fusion centers that they set up to deal with domestic terrorist threats. the interesting thing we found out is representative as of the big banks sat in on these meetings of the bankers and the police coordinated it and came up with the propaganda line like pollution and how to start demanding cleaning and that was sized excuse for taking us out. that fusion of financial power and police power is there for all to see. >> why not do it someplace where they can't get at you? >> canada. >> canada? there is of course private property and cyberspace in a town, a small town where for whatever reason the city fathers don't have a problem with you.
the hutterites in canada or any other, lots of examples of communal farmers who have in fact built their model community. >> we have farms. there are seven or eight occupies farms in new york alone. we have been able to keep it that the problem is you need a central place where people can show up. this is our real crisis because in order for a movement to grow and there is a little attrition and burnout, most of the people are still there and we do have new people but we don't have the same flow of new people as we used to because nobody knows where to go. akamai had central park, the nice thing about a park is a central place in the city and anybody who wants to say -- they know where to go and show up and people will say you want to go to that tend or if you are
in banking go there. we have that on line but somehow it's not the same. a real physical place where people can show up and have conversations and that is what they were determined to have. we tried to reestablish everything we could probably -- possibly think of in and this is a story most people don't know. after the eviction of the park we found all these legal loopholes. the square was so is opened so for the first time in 100 years they closed it and started sending in all sorts of riot cops. they found a legal decision that said he could you could sleep on the sidewalk is a form of protest as long as you only thought half the sidewalk so we started doing that on wall street. they declared it a local security zone so that doesn't apply. we went to the place where they signed the bill of rights to try taking us out there. it took three days and before long we were surrounded by swat
teams imposing these rules to make arbitrary arrest and arrests and terrorizing peoples so we finally left. we weren't able to establish a foothold. they didn't care, they were just going to drive us out. >> are we going to take questions from the audience? i have one more thing that i want to ask you here. i have written all this stuff down. you know what it was? i was reading this book i john steinbeck, in dubious battle. do you remember this? it's this classic strike model from the 1930s. it might've been one of the things that ayn rand used to write "atlas shrugged," her version of the strike novel that and that the strikers are migrant farmworkers and they do camp. they set up an encampment and they run into the same problems you did, obviously sanitation. >> they had it pretty well
handled. >> as a pretext and then of course there is the violence and ultimately everything falls apart but when you are talking about a traditional strike like that there is always a sense that if they last long enough they will win something tangible. i always got the feeling with occupies that there was nothing like that on the horizon that was just like we are here and here we are. >> we set up the network that is nationwide. the fact that they are not reporting, this is something a lot of us find very interesting. laid around the time of this mass eviction of the camps which we now know is coordinated around the country all of a sudden it had been intense like nothing we ever experienced before stopped. i had like three different interviews on three different tv shows that have been lined up
and they immediately stopped talking to us as soon as that happened. something happened. i think the story when we look at it in retrospect it's going to be different but there is a blackout. most people don't know in fact what we accomplished was to create an institutional structure which is still still running. that is why when sandy happened, hurricane sandy we were the first guys on the field. 40,000 people registered in a number of days direct action groups. they are still out there and we have a huge infrastructure with that. we have the campaign in a whole series of things. most cities which are having a more change -- mortgage crises now have anti-eviction squads who will come in and do occupation so there is occupies foreclosed homes all over the country, endless variety of things. also and i want to end with this
because we are on c-span. >> i want to say this. i think what this shows us is something really profound about american politics were again the right-wing seems to understand something the left doing such it is it is does not. the reason this happened is because the liberal organizations which hadn't been supporting is basically the left-wing of the democratic party once it began they decided all right enough is enough. i think the kind of expected us to turn into some kind of left-wing version of the tea party. maybe not candidates but get involved with legislative campaigns. when they found that we were serious they became much more tepid and look the other way. there were three broken windows in england that they got all excited about that happened two months before. most people, everybody in
america seems to know there were three broken windows in oakland in october. we only had one major incident of a window baking ewor on the six-month anniversary of the occupation. there was a window broken by the nypd using a protesters had. that's one didn't seem to get noticed. it was a storefront window too. anyway, this gives you a sense of just how much there was a sense of dead air. somebody, i don't know who, probably a lot of people decided it wasn't strategic to make an issue out of this and this was i think what the right knows that the left doesn't seem to have figured out. you can't sell out your radicals on policy issues if you first sell out your radicals on existential issues.
that is to say your average republican probably thinks they are a bunch of but if anybody threatens the second amendment they go crazy because they know you need the radicals on the right. then you sell them out but you don't sell them out on axis digital issues. on the other hand the democratic left doesn't seem to have figured this out. the democratic left says anything about the first amendment issues like a direct attack on the freedom of assembly for example the right gets upset about any suggestion of gun control, we would still be out there and we wouldn't be arguing about cutting social security. we would be arguing about prosecute -- prosecuting wall street. >> we have a name for that. it's called triangulation and only one of the two parties bothers with it. we will take questions from the audience. [applause]
>> thank you. thank you david and thomas. mike is going to come around so if you have a question raise your hands. >> i would like to invite you to speculate a little bit about possible solutions and next steps and in particular the idea of a basic income, coordinating committee of the u.s. basic income guarantee network and this idea that guaranteed basic income is gaining a lot of attention and many other countries. >> italy especially. >> brazil especially south africa ireland and parts of africa. and most people don't know about it and especially don't know that in the 1960s it was a moderate mainstream idea that there should be some type of guaranteed income supported even by milton friedman. so i would just like you to comment on it and see if there
would be any traction with occupying other groups? >> interesting. there are a lot of people talking and there was an idea percolating around the movement as well. a lot of people especially coming out of italy and talking about it. and then there is the possibility of a global asic and, idea as opposed to a national impede the only state to have one is alaska. they have a permanent one. [inaudible] it's an interesting idea. i am not a policy guy. i'm interested in creating democratic forums and allowing people to debate and come up with ideas for themselves. should there be a free society? i always say i'm less interested
in a blueprint and interested in creating and institutional structures where people can decide for themselves on the process they want to have. that's good to put on the agenda. my only suggestion has been in a slightly different direction but not an era console of a one. i have always thought, that we could kill two birds with one stone because we have two terrible crises, we have a debt crisis in the global warming climate change problem. the only thing events after climate change we had a mass procession and a lot of people were out of work. now a lot of people think the solution of the problem is everyone should be working more. with the debt crisis really is ultimately people promising to work more next year than they did the last. the debt is basically a promise of future productivity so why
not combine both? why not have as broad a jubilee as possible and followed that with a four-hour day? a five month vacation, but basic income, it's another way of approaching the same problem. its more radical in a way because it's a way of detaching from recompense rather than wage assessment. let's say everyone is guaranteed something and it's not like people don't want to work. most people want to do something with their lives except that they want to do something that's meaningful and that is why they can get away with paying those people who help people less than the people doing the harder stuff. >> talked earlier about the commonality of all tourism to the upper class in the lower class. it's a very idealistic vision. i thought i was an idealist but now i think i'm a communist.
my version of it is that there is also a commonality of selfishness between the 1% and the 97%. the same thing that causes mortgage bankers to blind themselves of the problems they're creating, the same thing that we have, white people destroy the planet and things that are harming others. and in addition i think there is also the sense in the upper class among undergradundergrad uates at harvard or m.i.t. who would like to do something that helps the world but also -- the same way described working-class person. is it untrue that the elites really have a choice but want a higher salary? is that an allusion or what are we doing about it? >> i should clarify that egoism and all tourism exists in
relationship to one another. one of the interesting things in one of my favorite thinkers is marcel most a french anthropologist and one of the things he argues in his book the gift there is a distinction between self-interest and all tourism simply would have been inconceivable in most periods of human history because it never occurred to anybody that any act is purely selfless or usually you're doing something for somebody else thinking you can get something out of it or because you hate somebody. if you go to a small village like a village in madagascar, they take a social and economic problem was not greek but it was spite that people would do things just because there was somebody they can't stand. economists don't usually work that factor into their calculation. you have to be a very specific institution to get both types of
behavior. in fact if you look at it historically the idea of self-interest or the idea of charity and selflessness show up that exact the same time, starting around 600 d.c. and you have the rise of impersonal markets and exactly the same times and places that they invent cash currency and personal markets. it's uncanny. here we have a space that keeps people just to get as much stuff as possible and not think about anyone else pretty. as soon as you do that somebody will say okay things are unimportant. so they kind of follow one another. whenever you have one you will have the other. rather than saying you can't have egoism and all tourism you need to move to a much richer
idea of what people are basically about which is much more subtle and complex than most of these models would possibly allow. >> we have time for two more questions. we'll take one over here. >> hi. you were talking about the ability of the difference in the ability of the left eye guess, the left seems very able to mollify people to take an issue like marriage and make a tiny mental change and satisfy people and push off its far left and that i think is a big use, big play that it's so different from the way that the right is able to, that the right still pays attentions to its radicals and takes its radicals very seriously. so i wonder what you think about the fact that so many people
still are in really serious economic dire straits and hopelessness without a way forward in this economy but it doesn't seem to translate into any desire for direct action and it seems like it's very easy that we have this feeling that we are in the midst of her recovery and that's enough. that has allowed something like occupy and also with a lot of other factors that have allowed it to lose strength and not turn into a more mass movement. >> well, i think one thing we have to think about is how we think of a movement. i am involved in the strike the debt campaign with occupy and we wanted to make an issue out of debt as we found we had popular assembly so we spent a lot of the summer thinking what issues will really take hold and will people respond to? we started off with popular assemblies and parks during the day before they kicked us out.
if we had once on climate change and police brutality and stop and frisk and things like that and we had one on debt and the one on death was gigantic. it was by far the biggest and lots of people got very excited. everybody in the same situation where they can't talk about it and they are ashamed and it was incredibly cathartic for people to compare notes with one another. it turned into a debt campaign but one of the first problems we had was how do you mobilize people around that? capitalism has shifted like most of the profits from wall street are from direct debt rather than anything related to commerce. it's not from exploiting wages. everybody is in something like the same place. they can talk to each other and form unions. in these new economic forums and we have been thinking about that a lot. in some ways it provides amazing opportunities because workers
and students are in the same economic circumstance. they have a lot warned, and that is why we found this incredible alliance between invented students and unionized workers. it was an alliance that never would have occurred in previous decades and impact in fact it would have been an antipathy to such movements earlier on. the potential is there but how do you actualize it? and we tried various things. for example one thing we tried was the debt pledge. it was student debt which was a trillion then and the major form of debt that you can't get out of. we can't ask people to default. let's get a million people to sign a document saying once we get to 1 million people we will all default at the same time and use that as a wedge. we found it really hard to get people to sign and one reason for that, we got about 5001
reason for that, we realized a lot of these people have already defaulted. 20% of student loans are in default. if you think you will be defaulting the last thing you want to do is put your name on a document saying yes i am defaulting. so then the question as well, how do you organize people who almost by definition can't admit to what they're doing? we realized in something we realized, wait a minute these guys are practicing civil disobedience already because what is civil disobedience to finance capital? not paying your debt. one out of every six americans or seven, i can't remember, definitely one out of seven americans is now being pursued by a debt collector. that doesn't include the 20% who have defaulted on their student loans and mortgages if you added up a quarter of americans
practice civil disobedience against finance capital in one way or the other. how much is political and how much isn't? it probably varies from case to case so the question is how do you -- that? it's a debt resistors operations manual. you can download it. we have been doing a campaign where we buy up debt, debt collectors buy up debt at 5 cents on the dollar. they are willing to write off this debt but there are just not willing to write it off for you. ..